Headlines: October 10th, 2000

The Human Resource Strategy element of the NHS 10 year plan comes with tough measures to ensure that health service employers deliver a cultural change. The recent agreement to reduce the working week for the 30,000 junior doctors to a maximum 56 hours will be enforced by publishing comparative information on progress. Regional offices have been told to set up teams to compare trusts of similar size and type and establish which were failing to cut junior doctors’ working week to the agreed average. In some NHS Trusts 95 per cent of junior doctors work longer that 56 hours.NHS Trusts failing to provide good quality accommodation and hot food day and night could face sanctions including a requirement to admit their failings in job advertisements. The worst performers would lose their right to appoint new junior doctors and, in extreme cases, they could lose all existing junior doctor posts.

The strategy, which is published in the Human Resources Framework, introduces the principal of measuring employers by the way they treat their staff and linking the allocation of resources to performance. The Framework sets out targets on recruitment, training, development and support of staff in order to ensure an expanded workforce with the skills to deliver the improvements in patient care announced in the NHS Plan. There will be a kite-marking system for NHS employers to demonstrate how they are improving the working lives of all their staff. By 2003 all NHS employers must be able to demonstrate that they are delivering flexible working arrangements, family-friendly working practices, healthy and safe work-places and other measures to support staff and improve retention.